The Eye Institute has been performing PRK for over two decades.

Who is a candidate for Custom PRK?

Anyone who is a candidate for LASIK could potentially have PRK. Also, some of those who cannot have LASIK may be able to undergo PRK as it spares corneal tissue by not making a flap. This may include those with thin or slightly irregular corneas. Often people in high contact professions (military, police, martial arts, etc.) will elect to undergo photorefractive keratectomy because of the lower risks for damage to the corneal flap. The ranges for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are the same as those for LASIK.

What are the results of Custom PRK?

The laser treatment that is applied in PRK is the same as LASIK. Therefore the results between PRK and LASIK are similar. More time is often needed to achieve good vision with photorefractive keratectomy because of the regeneration of the epithelial layer. PRK and LASIK results are similar. Most people achieve 20/20 vision after PRK surgery, and nearly all patients achieve 20/40 visual acuity or better.1

What is Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)?

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a laser procedure designed to reshape the cornea. PRK at the Eye Institute in Rapid City is performed directly to the front surface of the eye, and therefore it is sometimes called “surface ablation” or “surface treatment.” Custom laser technologies are now applied in both LASIK and PRK, allowing for more precision with lower risk to night vision.
PRK procedure diagram

What Can I Expect on Surgery Day?

The LASIK eye surgery day consists of the following:

  • You will check-in, sign forms, pay and any additional testing will be performed at this time.
  • We offer fresh-baked cookies and a massage chair while you await your surgery time.
  • You will meet and have the chance to talk to your surgeon before surgery.
  • Patients are awake during this procedure, so the first step is to get you comfortable and gently anesthetize your eyes with eye drops.
  • Your surgeon will then remove the epithelium. At this point, your vision should dim or become blurrier.
  • Once this is completed, the laser will be applied. The laser is controlled by a computer, and an eye-tracking device ensures the highest degree of accuracy – even if your eye moves. As it works, you will hear a clicking sound. This part is over very quickly and should be completely painless.
  • The surgeon will then place a bandage contact lens in your eye to help aid in the healing process. This contact lens will be removed at your 1week appointment.
  • You will feel discomfort following the procedure for the first 4-6 hours. This will be controlled with medication and will lessen but fluctuate over the first two to three days.

Does PRK hurt?

The procedure of PRK does not hurt as your eyes are numbed during the process. However, the initial 4-6 hours of recovery is uncomfortable. Everyone has a different threshold for pain so the intensity varies. The recovery time for PRK is different and longer than LASIK. The reason for this is for PRK we go about getting to your eye for the correction in a different way. Instead of creating the flap we remove the epithelial layer of the cornea, which needs to regenerate making the recovery a bit more uncomfortable and longer than LASIK.

When Will I Be Able to Return To Normal Activity After My Treatment?

In many cases, patients report that they feel fine enough to return to their daily schedules in 4-5 days! You will not be able to drive right after surgery and doctors recommend that you rest for 24 to 48 hours to give your eyes enough time to heal properly, especially if you work in an environment that can be stressful on your eyes.

Will I Still Need My Glasses?

It is unlikely that you will need glasses after LASIK. The typical person age 18 to 40 will not need prescription glasses at all. After age 40, the natural lens typically starts to lose flexibility, causing the need for reading glasses to see up close. This condition is called presbyopia and it eventually happens to all people. If you are considering LASIK and hope to avoid reading glasses, ask about a procedure called monovision or Kamra.

What Is The Cost?

Around $2000 per eye. We have different post-operative care packages available and a dry eye combined with the LASIK package. At your free evaluation, we will give you detailed pricing information, so you can choose what fits your needs the best. Financing is available through CareCredit, and monthly payments can be as low as $75 per eye a month

What are the risks and side effects of Custom PRK?

The risks associated with PRK are similar to those of LASIK, with a few important distinctions. One of the main advantages of photorefractive keratectomy is that there are no risks in making a flap, as that is not performed in PRK. After PRK, the epithelial layer must regenerate. A small percentage of patients may not have perfectly clear epithelium regenerate. This is called “haze” and could limit vision compared to what you would see with spectacles or contact lenses. With any surgical procedure, infection is a potential for complications. Proper use of antibiotic eye drops before and after surgery will help to decrease this possibility. Other risks with laser eye surgery do exist; your eye doctor will help to cover these in detail as they relate to your case.

Alternatives to PRK

Not all patients are good candidates for PRK. The Eye Institute offers the following procedures as an alternative:

  • Kamra
  • Monovision LASIK
  • Intacs® corneal implants
  • Visian ICL

View Video

About the ICL Procedure

Is All-Laser Vision Correction the Same?

No. Different surgeons use different technologies. Discount centers may offer outdated technology from inexperienced surgeons. Don’t let price dictate which laser vision center you choose. Trust your eyesight to an experienced doctor using advanced technologies.

What’s Next? Get An Eye Exam!

If you are interested in finding out if you are a candidate for LASIK corrective surgery, then it’s best to have a free evaluation by our laser vision specialists. During this appointment, Dr. Schirber will be able to fully evaluate you for the procedure, and answer any questions you may have about laser eye surgery. Dr. Schirber and other members of our staff have had LASIK and are happy to share their experiences with you.

605-718-3937   Schedule your evaluation today

“Having PRK at the Eye Institute was a great experience! The process was smooth, the staff is knowledgeable & very helpful. I really liked Dr. Schirber he answered all of my questions honestly, and when it came to surgery I know what was going on & what to expect the whole time. I wish I would have done this five years ago… It’s AWESOME!”

Andy W.

“I am floored about how easy and pain-free the PRK experience has been!  I’ve taken no pain medication, and I’m returning to work the day after the procedure. Wow! I would highly recommend the procedure to anyone a little nervous. Thank you.

”Helene D

“A little sensitive but most of all pretty good. PS I loved the cookies and massage chair! Overall the doctors and assistants were very nice, helpful and made you feel very comfortable!”

Daniel T.

“ The staff at the LASIK center is fabulous. My healing/recovery process is just how they said it would be!”

Lana D

“Eyes are dry & scratchy but I expected that. There was good communication from the doctors and staff at the Eye Institute. I didn’t feel surprised or alarmed by anything I experienced.”

Biran B

“Better comfort than I anticipated”

Lisa R


Michael daSilva, MD


1 Boxer, Brian. “Long-Term Results of PRK.” All About Vision, 5 Aug. 2017